Life is a journey, and it’s up to me to set the foundation, to know when to pursue and when to let go.
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, the youngest of three children and, my journey to finding myself has been wrought with the challenge of trusting myself first and finding love second. It’s not to say that I did not grow up in a loving environment, nor am I saying that my family life did not present itself with some dubious challenges. However, I did not understand that the love that I sought from others would start with me.
As a young lady, I envisioned and held sacred the notion of the “knight in shining armor” – the man who is coming to give me what I needed, indirectly or exactly. Yet, I wasn’t looking for someone to “save” me, per se. Rather, I believed that I would find/meet someone who would love me as much or more than I thought I loved myself. My skewed direction in pursuit of love, dating, and relationships—or what I considered or determined love to be—did not manifest itself until I reached my early 20’s. I didn’t recognize that someone who cheats or mistreats women will no doubt do unto me as well. It never occurred to me that I would not be exempt from the less than stellar attitude and behavior he exhibited towards some of the women he dated while dating me. It never occurred to me, in the words of Maya Angelou: “When people show you who they are the first time, believe them.” I ruled that out; the idea that I too may be experience anything less than respectful was ludicrous. Granted, some may consider normal for a young man to date more than one young lady at a time; however, it is not normal for said man to be emotionally or physically abusive.
Being unfaithful can be a redeemable quality if the man chooses to do so, and if the woman chooses to sacrifice her time, sanity, and energy and not see it for what it is and know that on occasion, she will take the back seat and not the front row. Truthfully, it was I that needed redemption. I was looking for love in all the wrong places, and knew that it was in my best interest to end the relationship immediately. But I did not because I wasn’t being realistic nor did I place a high value on myself, my time, or my integrity. Quiet as it’s kept, I approved of his lack of consideration and inability to control his behavior while he was determined to control the women he bedded – I was a silent partner; a bystander, recipient of hearsay, and allowed myself to believe the hype and deceive my own eyes. My perception and judgment was defined by inaccurate and irrelevant information. At that time in our lives, both of us were flawed individuals who needed to reevaluate who we are, how we project ourselves to others, and get a clear direction on what we needed to make us whole. It never crossed my mind that I am responsible for myself and although I could not alter the way that he perceived me, I could take charge of my own life and leave him to be who he wanted to be, even if he remained forever young.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” — Dr. Seuss
Change is inevitable, and a heavy dose or maturity and a serious detox of all things too familiar, was my new (intended) focus. After a hearty ‘good riddance’ to the young man who didn’t compliment me, along with an in-depth consideration of who am I, really, and what I truly needed in a relationship I was proud of my freedom and felt lighter – a huge burden was lifted from my shoulders. I was a butterfly released from my cocoon. I relished my newfound ‘independence’ and self-awareness, and I looked forward to all that would accompany me in my path to “conscious coupling”. It was full speed ahead towards a better life and a better love life – or so I thought. My spirit was free – I dated guys who were tall, short, professional and blue collar, and explored the myriad of irks, quirks, and idiosyncrasies that I or they exhibited, and I handled my ‘personal affairs’ with care and consideration. I didn’t feel the need to hold on to anyone who didn’t move my spirit, and if I determined that I or they had nothing more to offer (emotionally, spiritually), I would remove myself from the situation, respectfully. It was liberating!
However, when I reached my fourth decade I learned and embraced my ‘true’ life lesson, the one that has changed me dramatically, gave me ‘pause’, and the zest to rewind and re-set my life. It was an invaluable lesson on love, my most recent affair of the heart. I call it ‘affair of the heart’ because I thought that I had found my true love, permanence, stability, and that everything that had happened in my past, every mistake or heartbreak, had led me to the moment with the love I now had. But I was wrong. What began as an earthy, sensual, grounding experience turned sour over a period of time. Life showed her face and brought along with it pimples and ugly blackheads. What I thought I knew, it turned out that I didn’t know anything or everything, and I didn’t acknowledge the things I did know, because I was already vulnerable. Sounds like an oxymoron – a confusing mixture of words all set to describe heartbreak, and yet how can one not acknowledge the things they know? When I wanted so badly to be and have love in my life I accepted that what I wanted didn’t matter as true. And most importantly, I doubted myself and didn’t consider that actions are the truest testament of reality.
“The one you love and the one who loves you are never, ever the same person.” ― Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters
Hindsight is truly 20/20. It is the imperfect perfection of what might have been, where what one would do if given a particular set of circumstances and making the right decisions. Looking back, I realize that time is priceless, instant replays are not available, and I can’t waste any of it on situations that don’t make me smile. I would be open and considerate of what I need and appreciate that moments are just that, and making the most of it and choosing wisely is priceless, for myself and others. I am creative by nature, but I know that a considerable portion of analytics is a delectable remedy to the anecdote of my life. I would understand that every situation, or every person I encounter may not fit what I need, and that it is okay. Growth is not determined by whom you spend time with, it is determined by what you learn from each encounter. Accept things as they are, and if something doesn’t fit, flow, or feel right, that it is not for me. Wisdom is it’s own teaching.
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